Asshole's Paradise

Atlas Shrugged: Part I Isn't Even a Real Movie

Asshole's Paradise

ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART 1 “Yay, white people!”

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It struck me last Saturday at the Regal Meridian 16 that I was probably sitting in a roomful of assholes. We were all—all 18 of us, including me and the three snickering college kids looking for a so-bad-it's-good experience—waiting for Atlas Shrugged: Part I to begin, and because of how we decided to spend our afternoon, we were pretty much all guaranteed to be jerks. I'm a critic for The Stranger, so my bona fides are established right there, of course. The first one in the theater was the old lady in the American flag T-shirt who was pecking furiously at her Kindle. A parade of assholes followed: the goateed paunchy guy (10 bucks says he works in tech, 20 bucks says he works at Amazon) dragging his sulky girlfriend to the center of the auditorium; the six dour gray-haired men who each came in alone (one, bless his heart, rocking a pleather fanny pack) and frowned at the screen, waiting for the movie to start; the two sloppily dressed mouth breathers (literally; at quiet points during the movie, their gasps—fwhooo, fhwheee—filled the silence like a malfunctioning air-conditioning system) who apparently couldn't find any friends or family to accompany them; and so on. (I'm sure it goes without saying, but in case you have any doubt: We were all white.)

I'm not going to debate the points of objectivism anymore. Life's too short. If you think Ayn Rand is great, we can basically shake hands and part ways right there; we have nothing to offer each other as human beings. Rand offers a childish worldview, intended for people who don't want to think about the world like grown-ups because thinking like a grown-up is too difficult. Arguing with a libertarian is like arguing the logic of a Dr. Seuss book with a class full of 6-year-olds, only not at all cute. So here's all I'm going to say about the political perspective of the film: If you're a sociopath, and you really, really, really hate humanity, and you believe in an absolute good and an absolute evil against all the staggering amount of evidence to the contrary (that is to say, after living in the real world for however long your life has been), you'll probably agree with this movie's political philosophy. Also: You are an asshole.

The irony of Atlas Shrugged, Part I, though, is that it's a movie about how the people who make truly great things are laid low by the mediocrity of people who are jealous of their gifts, and it is an entirely mediocre movie. (Plot summary: A bunch of dicks walk around whining about how hard it is to be a dick. Two dicks ride a train and have an affair, because the guy's wife is a dick and can't understand how hard he works at being a dick. All their dick friends keep disappearing. The end. See you for part two, April 15, 2012!) Though the script praises exceptionalism, the script itself is unexceptional, making a monotonous hash from Rand's soap-­operatic blather ("What happened to you, Francisco? Where is the man I used to love?" and "There is so much at stake. We have to make it"). The characters are supposed to be nearly superhuman in their skills and self-confidence, but the actors are incapable of pretending to be even believable human beings.

The ethos that Atlas Shrugged hammers into its audience is that something is either worth doing to the absolute best of your ability or not worth doing at all. Yet a large part of the film is made up of generic stock footage, the cinematographer is more interested in the cheap rental furniture than the human beings uncomfortably sitting on it, and the wardrobe department can't seem to tie a single necktie into a proper knot. The continuity editor apparently hasn't found the time to watch the film yet: Every character rides around in the same limousine, and entire scenes consist of people sitting around tables at alleged "dinners" where no food is served, saying good-night to each other over full, untouched glasses of wine.

To call Atlas Shrugged: Part I comically inept would imply that it had a sense of humor, or that it's an entertaining wreck of a film. It's not that; it's a barely watchable conglomeration of incomplete scenes about unformed characters, and it's boring as hell to watch. It's more tragically inept, a dyslexic love letter to the first third of a bad book. It doesn't even deserve a real review, because it's not a real movie; it's just a hacked-together fairy tale for assholes. In fact, it's exactly the movie that that roomful of assholes deserved. recommended


Comments (112) RSS

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shw3nn 1
Sounds pretty faithful to the novel.

Except I bet chain smoking wasn't featured quite so prominently.
Posted by shw3nn on April 20, 2011 at 10:36 AM · Report this
JF 2
The other thing that makes you an asshole? That shirt you're wearing.
Posted by JF on April 20, 2011 at 1:19 PM · Report this
The only thing I learned from reading The Virtue of Selfishness was the realization of the Ayn Rand Paradox: people who believe in their own superiority are complete assholes.
Posted by dmitrir on April 20, 2011 at 4:00 PM · Report this
A pretty impartial review.

I guess if you have nothing constructive to bring to the table, namecalling is all you really have left.
Posted by JETPACKTOTHEMOON on April 20, 2011 at 5:09 PM · Report this
LEE. 5
so from your review I can safely assume that in a world of unabashed greed and unfettered commerce, art does not exist. that's all I needed to hear.

and @4, what the hell have you been smoking? since when is it necessary for critics to be impartial? if anything criticism is where the biased live and thrive. go back to your fair and balanced cable news.
Posted by LEE. on April 20, 2011 at 5:51 PM · Report this
6 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
Greenwood 7
Thought the one star Ebert review was pretty darn good, but this is better. Thank you for this, Paul.
Posted by Greenwood on April 20, 2011 at 7:37 PM · Report this
In the club of assholes, which has probably the largest membership on earth, this reviewer attempts to take the prize, right up his... well, you get the point.

The Atlas Shrugged movie is excellent. It is a movie about ideas, crucially important and incredibly timely ideas in fact. Most audience members understood this clearly enough, and gave this movie excellent reviews. Most real and pretend "reviewers" pretended to ignore this, and trashed the movie in order to garner approval from their friends, peers and/or bosses.

These reviewers are like morons on the Titantic 2 minutes before it goes keel up, then sinks. They support and justify unlimited government power, abuse and destructive actions... then blame others for the disasterous consequences.

Forget what reviewers say. Go watch Atlas Shrugged for yourself, maybe 2 or 3 times to assure you actually understand the message, then think about it for awhile. What do YOU think about the ideas, actions and consequences in the film? Think for yourself.
Posted by bootstrap on April 20, 2011 at 8:15 PM · Report this
What a disingenuous hatchet job! At least the reviewer doesn't pretend to be objective about the philosophy. Of course, the reviewer probably doesn't know what objective means, or why the concept is important.

Atlas Shrugged is a movie about ideas, not a visual spectacle or fawning over grossly over-hyped and over-paid celebrity actors. Most audience members understand this, and review this movie very highly. Most, supposed "professional reviewers" understand this too, but pretend they don't so they can disingenuously trash the movie to garner brownie points from their peers and/or bosses.

Atlas Shrugged is an excellent movie about crucially important and utterly timely ideas. Go see it three or four times, then decide for yourself whether a movie should be savaged for preaching ethics, productivity and individualism.
Posted by bootstrap on April 20, 2011 at 8:20 PM · Report this
Atlas Shrugged is a adolescent wet dream. Fine job Paul--obviously I won't be seeing this steaming turd of a movie.
Posted by gberry on April 20, 2011 at 8:39 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 11
You could say this movie was a train-wreck!

(see what I did there?)

Ebert's review is great:…

I hear there is a lot of scenery of Colorado though. Yay Colorado!
Posted by Urgutha Forka on April 20, 2011 at 9:44 PM · Report this
Rev. Adam McKinney 12
Bootstrap seems like a genuine person who has real thoughts and ideas to get across! What a breath of fresh air!

O, but if I could subscribe to his twitter feed!
Posted by Rev. Adam McKinney on April 21, 2011 at 6:13 AM · Report this
13 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
JF 14
@11 ZING!

(seriously though, I did one of those hard, one-time laughs after reading that first line)
Posted by JF on April 21, 2011 at 7:23 AM · Report this
Ironically, only an @sshole could have written such a review.

It's fine that he didn't like it, but his approach only calls attention to himself.

It's kinda like how only a mean person would say "mean people suck."
Posted by jonaf on April 21, 2011 at 7:28 AM · Report this
This guy will always be bottom fishing writing garbage for a free rag.
Posted by ezeques on April 21, 2011 at 8:17 AM · Report this
"a movie about ideas, not a visual spectacle"

I thought an awful lot of Rand's plots were about great people being held back from making great art (architects) or great infrastructure (engineers). Wouldn't you want your movie to be, you know, great? In respect to its art form? In respect to being appealing to a broader audience? I mean, maybe you're right, and the producers set out to make a boring flop. Seems a bit contradictory. Although I do love the concept of the Tea Party seizing on the philosophy of a woman who would likely despise the majority of them on a personal basis (rural, middle class, blue collar).

"or fawning over grossly over-hyped and over-paid celebrity actors"

I'm pretty sure you mean talented people maximizing their profit and fame, while acting predominantly out of ego and self-interest. Who better to play your selfish, rapey, hatey leads? If celebrities don't embody your Randian ideal, who does? Hell, I'm pretty sure Charlie Sheen is your superman.
Posted by gravitysgone1 on April 21, 2011 at 8:17 AM · Report this
spoiler alert: she loves getting raped
Posted by 000222 on April 21, 2011 at 9:48 AM · Report this
Wow. I really thought The Stranger was going to like this one.
Posted by cliche on April 21, 2011 at 9:59 AM · Report this
"A hacked-together fairy tale for assholes." I love it. An apt description for most movies out there. At least Mudede didn't review it.
Posted by meso on April 21, 2011 at 10:16 AM · Report this
wisepunk 21
Being into politics and liking this movie is like being into comics and liking the Wolverine movie.
Posted by wisepunk on April 21, 2011 at 10:41 AM · Report this
shw3nn 22
bootstrap believes that, if I don't like this fictional movie, that means I support and justify unlimited government power, abuse and destructive actions.

And this is a typical Randian thought process. They're like crazy ass cult members.
Posted by shw3nn on April 21, 2011 at 11:12 AM · Report this
povertylaw 23
Hey guys, what's it called when a person gets paid to post contrary comments on blogs in order to make people think that real people actually disagree with the blogger? You know, like what bootstrap is doing?

Cuz his writing and grammar are far too good for anyone who actually thinks this book/movie is about anything worthwhile.
Posted by povertylaw on April 21, 2011 at 12:03 PM · Report this
Did you notice how bootstrap posted basically the same thing twice in @8 & @9, but reworded it so it doesn't technically count as a repost? They're totally going to bill the producers/promoters/whoever double for that.
Posted by aiff on April 21, 2011 at 12:53 PM · Report this
"The Atlas Shrugged movie is excellent. It is a movie about ideas, crucially important and incredibly timely ideas in fact."

Psst. Being a "movie about ideas" doesn't make a movie excellent; being a fun way to blow $25 and a few hours is what makes a movie excellent.

You were the leather fannypack guy, weren't you?
Posted by malamute on April 21, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 26
@8/9- I like the part where you forgot to log into another account to post your sock puppet comment.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on April 21, 2011 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Original Monique 27
@9: Nice try, Atlas Shrugged: Part I movie executive.
Posted by Original Monique on April 21, 2011 at 1:25 PM · Report this
shw3nn 28
@23 Good call!

bootstrap knows a hell of a lot about the production cost and time constraints in this comment below a different reveiw:
Posted by shw3nn on April 21, 2011 at 1:40 PM · Report this
Arguing with libertarians on the internet is like pissing in the wind. They are all white, male overgrown teenage dorks, and they tend to come out of the woodwork when anything about libertarianism is mentioned online. Of course, their frenzied attacks on anyone that critiques libertarianism always devolves into bickering amongst themselves. Just wait, arguments about "l" vs. "L" and Rand vs. Rothbard will commence in 3, 2, 1...
Posted by jabuhrer on April 21, 2011 at 2:12 PM · Report this
@23, 28: One hopes that he is, in fact, a shill; if he's not, it says the guy has bigger problems than being inept at sockpuppetry.

Over/under on last time he got some?
Posted by malamute on April 21, 2011 at 2:16 PM · Report this
saxfanatic 31
Face it Constant, you're just jealous.

Ha! Just kidding. Seriously though, you have piqued my curiosity. Now I want to see it.
Posted by saxfanatic on April 21, 2011 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Parsnip 32
#9: What a nearly FLAWLESS parody of culty Randian speak. The "bootstraps" handle tips your hand, though.
Posted by Parsnip on April 21, 2011 at 5:50 PM · Report this
Spicy McHaggis 33
These Randians need a bootstrap upside the head.
Posted by Spicy McHaggis on April 21, 2011 at 9:02 PM · Report this
This is "Part I"? Meaning additional steaming turds to follow?
Posted by MacGruber on April 21, 2011 at 10:27 PM · Report this
cubbybear 35
What a hack job of a review. The entire first paragraph consists of picking on weirdos (in a movie theater of all places!). And OMG, white people in Seattle! Shocking! A better example of self hatred being projected outwardly could not be found. This article is laughably bad.
Posted by cubbybear on April 21, 2011 at 11:59 PM · Report this
@35: The weirdos started this fight by wrapping themselves in sanctimony. "Atlas Shrugged" is deeply misanthropic, a perfect reflection of Rand's inner demons channeled as contempt for the hoi polloi.
Posted by malamute on April 22, 2011 at 4:52 AM · Report this
Nobody complains about the all-White crowds at Burning Man or Grateful Dead concert, so this criticism of the audience sounds foolish.
Posted by Nixxer on April 22, 2011 at 7:43 AM · Report this
Nobody complains about the all-White crowds at Burning Man or Grateful Dead concerts, so this criticism of the audience sounds foolish.
Posted by Nixxer on April 22, 2011 at 7:49 AM · Report this
It would be interesting to contrast the skin tone of this crowd with, say, the Seattle premier's of Soderberg's movie "Che"
Posted by Nixxer on April 22, 2011 at 7:59 AM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 40
Hey bootstrap: Don't let the haters get you down. I remember what it was like when I was 15, so I understand. Keep reading books, believe in yourself, and get out of the house every once in a while, okay?

Now run along, ya lil' scamp.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on April 22, 2011 at 9:10 AM · Report this
shw3nn 41
39 Welcome to The Stranger, Nixxer!

There's nothing the least bit dubious about your sudden arrival and repetitive posting style. Nothing at all.

Anyway, that bootstrap is a real douche nozzle, don't you think?
Posted by shw3nn on April 22, 2011 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Plot summary: A bunch of dicks walk around whining about how hard it is to be a dick. Review Summary: The reviewer is an asshole whining about people who he thinks are assholes because they have different views than him.
Posted by HenryVan on April 22, 2011 at 1:33 PM · Report this
ron_in_PDX 43
Soooooo ... didn't like it, huh?
Posted by ron_in_PDX on April 22, 2011 at 5:12 PM · Report this
If I am reading this right, we should judge every movie by the crowd in it? Should we also dismiss any philosophy we disagree with and use our own bias to trash a movie? I would think that movie reviewers (at least the good ones) would at least look at the film itself and examine the plot and cinematography to come to a rational conclusion to share with thier readers. I guess I expet too much.
Posted by h8f8kes on April 22, 2011 at 8:30 PM · Report this
ChadK 45
@ Bootstrap - "Atlas Shrugged is a movie about ideas, not a visual spectacle or fawning over grossly over-hyped and over-paid celebrity actors."

Have you ever even read a single Stranger movie review before making this projection of yours that is erroneous at best and patently wrong at worst?

What skewed logic leads you to conclude that the typical pointy-headed liberal Stranger reader, my present company included, regularly eschews the usual over the top big-budget spectacle with overrated celebrity actors in favor of a more nuanced and cerebral cinematic offering, with cast unknown to the general moviegoing public?

If you are going to make a sweeping generalization, try to make sure that you get your generalizations right. Of course, according to your presence on sites reviewing this movie, it appears that you are far too busy defending this film, making excuses for its flaws and shortcomings as well as accusing its critics of not getting it.

So much for taking critique in stride when it happens to be your own purportedly perfect ideology that is the subject of ridicule.
Posted by ChadK on April 22, 2011 at 9:18 PM · Report this
Why are libertarians so thin-skinned?
Posted by malamute on April 23, 2011 at 12:08 AM · Report this
47's very scary outside the collective. And they don't get laid.
Posted by ddddddd on April 23, 2011 at 3:27 AM · Report this
I've a cousin who's a bigtime Libertarian. He's very proud of this and will tell you about how superior Libertarian thought is, ad nauseam. I asked him last year why it is that all the Libertarians I've ever known have a tendency to come off as obnoxious assholes and he said "Because we're right and we know it. Everyone else is wrong." Oh, well, that would make it okay, I guess.

There are a few things about Libertarianism that I actually agree with, but this underlying Jeremiah-Johnsonism, that people have no obligation to their community, the society, or even to pay attention to who pays for the roads they're driving on, is at best short-sighted and usually just something for selfish assholes.

Just because Ayn Rand was a sociopath who hypocritically tapped the system for Social Security and Medicare benefits does not make her ideas wrong. It just adds color to the fact that she was a selfish asshole who liked writing what amounts to 15yo-nerdboy-revenge porn. Anyone Ayn Rand's stuff appeals to as a life philosophy has already failed their human test.
Posted by JohnHedtke on April 23, 2011 at 2:52 PM · Report this
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs. "
- john rogers
Posted by ben trovato on April 24, 2011 at 12:25 AM · Report this
Libertarianism refers to consistently applying Ethical Means in the pursuit of Desirable Ends. Ethical Means are primary because they refer to real actions ("I am stealing this candy bar", "I am dropping bombs on this village", "I am hitting this person") and Desirable Ends are mental concepts, therefore unreal.
The principle of NON-AGGRESSION (excepting the appropriate use of force in self-defense) is the heart and soul of libertarian ethics.
I always though an "asshole" was an initiator of violence and force, not an individual who deeply abhors it. I am honestly curious to know what points are specifically objectionable and how they are off-base. I am a housekeeper and cook for international students and a reflexologist. I want no part of the corporate/banking world's funny money. I am honestly trying to determine my approach to the world's problems.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 24, 2011 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Ben, get a mind of your own. Quotes are lazy.
Posted by Henry89 on April 24, 2011 at 1:28 PM · Report this
Bonefish 52
It's really telling that libertarians think government regulation consists of a bunch of senators banning awesome, effective products because they're just a bunch of big ol' meanies who hate success. What a cartoonish view of the world (even for an antisocial 15-year-old).

Of course, in real life, most government regulation is necessitated by the tendency of private companies to use shitty, dangerously ineffective materials and methods in order to cut costs (as well as their tendency to fuck over their employees).

I can't tell if libertarians know this but just hate their fellow humans enough to support shitty business methods, or if they're just stupid enough to accept Rand's simplistic bullshit.

Be they misanthropes or morons, libertarians should never be taken seriously, and it's a shame that one of them has managed to slither his way into office in Kentucky.
Posted by Bonefish on April 24, 2011 at 3:57 PM · Report this
"it's a shame that one of them [libertarians] has managed to slither his way into office in Kentucky."

Oh, no it's not a shame at all - it's a laff riot! I love seeing other libertarians attempt to tap dance away from Aqua Buddha as fast as they can.

He's not exactly what they had in mind, but to us he displays exactly the sort of problems you get when a goofball funneling the ideology of perfect liberty funneled through the mechanisms of government...Dixie-style. Pure comedy gold!
Posted by malamute on April 24, 2011 at 11:31 PM · Report this
lol @ 49
Posted by cyn on April 25, 2011 at 12:35 AM · Report this
shw3nn 55
@50 You think that, in order to qualify as an asshole, you must engage in physical violence?

I can think of another way to do it.

Start your country out very protectionist. Do not allow other countries to sell their products in your country until your industries are strong enough to compete. Make sure you protect your home industry from competition at all cost until they can win the competition.

Once your home industries are so strong, they can't lose, suddenly act like competition is awesome and protectionism is practically immoral. If some chain smoking, wraith of a former soviet writes some long, bad, ridiculous fiction to this effect, worship her like a goddess.

You should be a very rich country at this point able to give aid to poor countries. So refuse any aid to a country that doesn't allow you to trade freely in their borders. You should be able to kill all the business in their countries and ruin all the farmers. You'll be able to put all those little brown people out of work. They will be desperate and willing to take any job just to eat.

Now, your industries get to open sweat shops in those countries to manufacture their goods at bargain basement (practically slavery) cost.

That is how you manage to be a complete asshole and espouse the principle of NON-AGGRESSION.
Posted by shw3nn on April 25, 2011 at 11:10 AM · Report this
cubbybear 56
Anyone ever notice how the biggest, most insecure assholes are usually the first people to point out how some other group of people are a bunch of assholes? Projection is an interesting aspect of psychology. It's the only way that someone can deal with the fact that they subconsciously know they believe something that is patently false.
Posted by cubbybear on April 25, 2011 at 11:48 AM · Report this
@ 8/9 - Funny how you went from "2 of 3 times" to "three or four times"... Been checking steeply declining box-office numbers, haven't we?

This movie sounds so awfully stupid I can't wait to see it... on a pirated DVD copy, of course. (I wouldn't expect libertarians to oppose to piracy, since it's the mark of a strongly individualistic mind not hindered by any anti-capitalist sentiment).
Posted by Ricardo on April 25, 2011 at 11:54 AM · Report this
shw3nn 58
56 distilled to its essence = "I know you are but what am I?"
Posted by shw3nn on April 25, 2011 at 12:10 PM · Report this
Dear #55
I am not familiar enough with Ayn Rand to agree or disagree with your response. I heard that she was a proponent of libertarian thought (I like Jefferson's thoughts most of all). If, and only if, your scenario is what Ayn Rand is proposing, then I concede the term "asshole" is in order. If you are proposing that a consistent application of NON-AGGRESSION ethics (excepting self-defense) would inevitably lead our country to act according to your scenario, then the discussion must almost solely involve my speculations (my guesswork, my set of prejudices) in opposition to your speculations (your guesswork, your set of prejudices). Are you arguing against my view that, in a just society, consistent ethical means must necessarily be primary in taking action on an issue?
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 25, 2011 at 12:31 PM · Report this
shw3nn 60
59 It has nothing to do with Rand or anything else.

I am proposing that a consistent application of NON-AGGRESSION ethics doesn't preclude being an asshole.

"Are you arguing against my view that, in a just society, consistent ethical means must necessarily be primary in taking action on an issue? "

That sentence reads like cultish nonsense to me. You've made no attempt to define 'ethical means' beyond that they are things that are done. "Doing things must necessarily be primary in taking action" is a complete tautology.
Posted by shw3nn on April 25, 2011 at 1:21 PM · Report this
@ 60 - It seems that for libertarians, the word "ethical" is devoid of meaning. What a surprise.
Posted by Ricardo on April 25, 2011 at 1:26 PM · Report this
@ 60 - Then again, considering thinkingisfree's very limited definition of the word "asshole" ("I always though an "asshole" was an initiator of violence and force, not an individual who deeply abhors it"), I'm beginning to think that we're dealing with a Humpty Dumpty type here... Redefining words any way he/she likes so as to sound profound while in fact being thoroughly vague and nonsensical (assholish behaviour - even though there's no violence involved!).

So in spite of the fact that thinking is supposed to be free, it still seems to be beyond his/her means.
Posted by Ricardo on April 25, 2011 at 1:45 PM · Report this
shw3nn 63
62 Are you saying Manny Pacquiao isn't an asshole?
Posted by shw3nn on April 25, 2011 at 2:43 PM · Report this
I am completely caving on the "asshole" assertion. At times, I've clearly been an asshole without any overt act of aggression. I was guilty of the humpty dumpty tactic on that one.
Concerning Ethical Means, I have a definition that I am still developing (and I'm happy to share it if asked to) but first I am trying to establish whether it is a worthwhile venture to come to an agreement on a working definition of ETHICAL MEANS. If someone asserts that "the Ends may justify Unethical Means", then I wonder whether there is any point in establishing a definition for Ethical Means, since they can be discarded anyway. My question should be: IF we were to agree on the particulars of Ethical Means, would you then agree that individuals in society (and government) must consistently employ Ethical Means regardless of the desired Ends? My contention, of course (I won't bury it) is that this is the starting point for libertarian inquiry, and it seems a worthwhile starting point for any political inquiry.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 25, 2011 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Also, I want to add a thank you to anyone indulging me in this discussion. I've spent too many years on the sidelines. Upon hearing that my best friend is being shipped off to serve in Afghanistan (he is unclear on the value of the mission), I made a commitment to him that I would make an ongoing contribution to improve this country while he is away. I want to avoid missteps, so this is beneficial.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 25, 2011 at 5:50 PM · Report this
shw3nn 66
64 No, I don't agree to that. I don't think it's possible to establish a rock solid, water tights system of ethics where you separate means and ends like so much yolk and whites and define exactly what actions are ethical and which aren't completely independent of circumstance and intention.

I find that idea ridiculous, frankly.

I'll tell you who did not find that idea ridiculous, though, Immanuel Kant. If you're just setting off on this investigation of ethics and want to start with means and ends, you'll find no better tour guide.

Not a fan, myself but that's already implied.
Posted by shw3nn on April 25, 2011 at 7:36 PM · Report this
@65: Your evolving libertarian is centere around foreign policy.

Most of the respondents here are less concerned with issues of foreign policy than they are with libertarian threats to a progressive vision of domestic economic and social justice, given the economic climate and budget issues of contemporary interest.

In short, you're talking about guns, and we're talking about butter. We're talking past each other.
Posted by malamute on April 25, 2011 at 8:00 PM · Report this
douchus 68

First, whoa, you're writing style is entirely anti-conversational in nature.

Second, because means can only be a pathway to an end, the means and ends are inextricably connected. To attempt to disassociate the two things is not possible.
Posted by douchus on April 25, 2011 at 8:04 PM · Report this
@64: also, there is no draft. If your friend is headed to Afghanistan it is as a result of an enlistment oath he took of his own free will.
Posted by malamute on April 25, 2011 at 8:12 PM · Report this
70 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
@ 63 - I don't see how you could come up with that conclusion. Never mind the boxing thing, he's releasing a cover of one of the lamest songs ever. Need I say more?
Posted by Ricardo on April 25, 2011 at 9:03 PM · Report this
Yes, my friend chose to honor his commitment. As far as butter, I am establishing stronger connections with friends and neighbors, using Life Dollars, and encouraging friends to develop practical skills. We send the little leftover money we bring in to a family member who is struggling with 2 kids. Something is very wrong with the yoke of debt that is demoralizing nearly all my friends (my M.D. and corporate friends excepted). Thanks to all who responded. Your challenges are helpful. I'll start with Kant. From reading about the disturbing entanglements between corporations, Congress, and the banks, I determined that we have a good constitution. The problem is a lack of honorable people in those positions of power. Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul appear to be honorable men. I'd trust either over 99 percent of the bunch. I don't think I improved on the conversational tone. Thanks for the help.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 25, 2011 at 9:05 PM · Report this
"From reading about the disturbing entanglements between corporations, Congress, and the banks, I determined that we have a good constitution. The problem is a lack of honorable people in those positions of power."

And here is the rub: libertarians believe that it is dangerous for men to use the instruments of government to limit the power of corporations and banks. In the libertarian leadership of those institutions are filled with Randian heroes who rose to their positions through sheer force of will.

Moreover, in the Randian libertarian imagination, we untermenschen parasites are completely reliant on these heroes - their ingenuity and drive provide our liberty and prosperity. So, we constrain their drive at our own peril.

It's this egocentrism that makes them assholes.
Posted by malamute on April 25, 2011 at 9:29 PM · Report this
God, I need a proofreader. First paragraph: "In the libertarian imagination, the leadership ranks of corporations and banks are filled with Randian heroes who rose to their positions solely through extraordinary talent and sheer force of will."
Posted by malamute on April 25, 2011 at 9:32 PM · Report this
The disturbing entanglements I'm referring to concern a money system (Federal Reserve) that only works by putting our nation (and all of us individually) further into debt. As for Corporations, the most glaring insanity is Congress giving them billions of dollars at our expense while the "working poor" (it's insane such a term exists) receive the trickle-down, by that time, more worthless dollars for doing real and tangible service and production. And, yeah, "my" government and corporations teaming up to destroy the lives of thousands (millions)in other countries means something. Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul consistently say no to the above. Money and power don't seem to be priorities for them. Dennis Kucinich is no libertarian, but I think he is a principled man (honorable). Most other politicians apply the rationale of the ends justify...the reversal of campaign positions, corporate giveaways, the insurmountable debt to working Americans today and in the future, bombing and terrorizing populations abroad. George W. and Obama say Yes. Ron Paul says no to all of it--on principle. Being consistent with principled (or ethical) Means seems to set Paul and Kucinich apart from the pack for me--thus all this harangue.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 26, 2011 at 6:48 AM · Report this
shw3nn 76
71 Lame? No. I don't think so. You just can't handle the truth of that song. The honesty is too much. You have to close your eyes and hide. Until the fear in you subsides.
Posted by shw3nn on April 26, 2011 at 8:35 AM · Report this
to 66 and 68
A key tool of the negotiator in a hostage situation is to get the hostage taker to SEPARATE his "worthy" End (get justice, secure my safety and escape, obtain money-whatever) from what he perceives to be "inextricably" intertwined Means (violence and the threat of violence). According to you guys, that is a futile, ridiculous approach. When successful (apparently most of the time), the hostage taker has chosen more ethical Means or at least given up the previously "inextricably intertwined" violent means.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 26, 2011 at 9:37 AM · Report this
@77: PRogressives and libertarians indeed have a few points at which their worldviews intersect. We have many more areas where we diverge.

The libertarianism you are promoting is anarcho-syndicalism, a left variant. The libertarianism that is on the rise in the US is a right wing variant, anarcho-capitalism.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that anarcho-capitalists like Ron Paul are your allies; like the Teabaggers, they are the unwitting, useful tools of corporate power. They would dismantle the only mechanisms that have ever worked to constrain it.
Posted by malamute on April 26, 2011 at 9:52 AM · Report this
A definition of sanity generally involves the ability to separate the real (Means initiated) from the unreal (conceptual Ends)
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 26, 2011 at 9:59 AM · Report this
Why the hatred for Ayn Rand? I'm certainly missing something. I haven't read Atlas Shrugged, but i read the Fountainhead. It wasn't the best book i've read but it certainly wasn't the worst. In terms of entitled douchey characters it wasn't worse than The Great Gatsby. I guess i am just confused as to why people feel so strongly about it. To me it would be like hating mashed potatoes. I get that you might not love them but there isn't anything so objectionable about them that it should inspire hate.
Posted by flounder on April 26, 2011 at 10:04 AM · Report this
shw3nn 81
77 We're talking about what works in establishing a system of ethics, not what works in convincing a desperate man to abandon his only leverage. Those two things will rarely be similar to each other.

I can still muddy these waters. Don't ever doubt my innate ability to confuse an issue ;)

This technique you're talking about is probably less effective if the hostage is a serial killer who killed the hostage taker's family, was released on a technicality and will likely kill a lot more people in the future.
Posted by shw3nn on April 26, 2011 at 10:05 AM · Report this
pales 82
See it 2 or 3 times! No, 3 or 4 times! And not at the matinee price, either.
Posted by pales on April 26, 2011 at 10:17 AM · Report this
You did muddy it up for a moment, but I think I can clear it a bit.
In establishing a system of ethics, I proposed that it is worthwhile to establish that it is not valid to declare that the Ends can justify unethical Means (given that we defined ethical Means). I was challenged on my assumption that Ends and Means can be separable. So I sought to demonstrate that they can be separable and that it can be worthwhile to do so.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 26, 2011 at 10:57 AM · Report this
shw3nn 84
83 No, you directed your response at my post where I made no such claim. What I said was, "I don't think it's possible to establish a rock solid, water tights system of ethics where you separate means and ends like so much yolk and whites and define exactly what actions are ethical and which aren't completely independent of circumstance and intention."

You know how you made an exception for your non-aggression ethic which was based on the ends? If the end is self-defense, violence is okay? You used the possible ends to define whether the means itself was ethical. That's pretty inextricable to me.
Posted by shw3nn on April 26, 2011 at 11:34 AM · Report this
You are a worthy opponent!
Fortunately, thinking is free. I'll have to do some of it to see if I can proceed without back-pedaling. (:
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 26, 2011 at 11:55 AM · Report this
On the first point, you set up a straw man (rock solid, water tight system of ethics) followed by a strong implication that one can't separate means and ends (like so much yolk and whites...what actions are ethical...independent of ...intention (Ends)). I did clump your statement in with the other more explicit post.
My use of a mini "ends justify the means" within the Ethical Means will take some more thinking to address.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 26, 2011 at 12:39 PM · Report this
If an apparent mad man is axing through my front door and threatening to kill my family (here's Johnny), and I'm holding my shotgun, my desired End is a safe outcome for my family. As urgent as the matter may be, I will separate the End from a collection of Means at hand. My Wife may be suggesting her favorite option-"Let's run for the back door" (maybe she is more pacifistic). Few would blame me if I opt for the shotgun approach. The Ends and Means are still separable. If I shoot (violent means), well I already asserted from the outset that self-defense is the exception for non-aggression ethics. It is therefore ethical means and doesn't violate the proposition that the Ends cannot justify unethical means.
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 26, 2011 at 1:06 PM · Report this
@80: The hatred exists because her works and philosophy provide the intellectual foundation for much of the conservative movement and its brutal economic policies. Alan Greenspan was an early acolyte, and the GOP's current darling - Rep. Paul Ryan - credits Rand for driving him to running for Congress. Ryan, in fact, requires his Congressional staffers to read Rand.

Free trade agreements? Thank Ayn Rand. Abandonment of the poor? Ayn Rand. Deregulation of the banking and airline industries? Ayn Rand.

Fitzgerald was not nearly so influential.
Posted by malamute on April 26, 2011 at 1:32 PM · Report this
@ 76 - Keep going, and you just might find that the honesty of my vomiting is too much.
Posted by Ricardo on April 26, 2011 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Here's another Bootstrap review, suggesting you call theaters to make sure they carry this steamy pile.…
Posted by Tippler of the Year on April 26, 2011 at 4:07 PM · Report this
shw3nn 91
87 It wasn't a straw man. It was hyperbole.

You haven't answered anything. All you did was manufacture a hypothetical scenario then make this ridiculous assertion. "If I shoot (violent means), well I already asserted from the outset that self-defense is the exception for non-aggression ethics. It is therefore ethical means and doesn't violate the proposition that the Ends cannot justify unethical means."

So, once you use the ends to justify the means, the means are already justified and you don't have to use the ends to justify the means. riiiiiiiight.

I will not be continuing this conversation with you. If you don't understand why, I won't be surprised.
Posted by shw3nn on April 26, 2011 at 4:41 PM · Report this
I've always suspected that Ayn Rand's misanthropic philosophy was a result of her family's fortunes being confiscated by the ultimate 'altruistics' , the Bolsheviks and her bitterness was expressed through total objectivist tomes and essays. Much of it later discredited by lover/protege , Nathaniel Brandon.
Posted by Randy Fleming on April 26, 2011 at 4:57 PM · Report this
I accept that. Neither of us will give up ground.
I think we're beating, maybe not a dead horse, but a horse that no-one cares about anymore. Thanks for bandying it about (please separate the 3 metaphors I just used) Best wishes
Posted by thinkingisfree on April 26, 2011 at 6:48 PM · Report this
@92: I think it goes deeper than that, as her sexual proclivities attest. She was traumatized by seeing her father emasculated by the Bolsheviks during her adolescence. Mix daddy trauma + adolescent hormones + a superior intellect and you get a woman who idolizes an imaginary, invincible, hyper-masculine alpha male. Her entire life history hints at her search for such an Ultimate Man, and her literature is nothing more than a lengthy - and ultimately, failed - attempt to summon him into existence.
Posted by malamute on April 26, 2011 at 7:58 PM · Report this
This author sounds like a real big emo crybaby who would rather feel sorry for himself and trash "the establishment".
Posted by CryCryCry on April 27, 2011 at 8:45 AM · Report this
I'm late to the party and someone else may have already pointed this out, but isn't bootstrap's use of the Titanic as a metaphor a bit odd? The Titanic wasn't built by government, and it certainly was pitched as a Randian dream, a product of man's ingenuity and effort that was so perfect as to defy God's own ability to sink it, driven hard to prove its own exceptionalism, and smacked hard into a big chunk of comeuppance masquerading as ice. The decisions that lead to its tragic end weren't government-mandated. I guess her adherents always have an out, the Jim Taggart dumb-dumb types who are forever bringing down the majesty of the truly brilliant, but doesn't that undercut the entire enterprise by showing that nothing, especially not the grandiose achievements of Rand's ubermenschen, can be achieved by one person?
Posted by karpar on April 27, 2011 at 11:01 AM · Report this
thinkingisfree's long discussion with several others was pretty interesting, but I'd like to look at the initial question of objectionable ideas in libertarianism (even though they've been touched on a bit already). My core objection to libertarianism found expression in Harry Browne's platform back in 2000. His environmental plank, possibly blurred in my mind by the intervening years, seemed to boil down to "it is in the interest of companies not to damage the land on which they operate, as they need to be able to extract value from that land in the future." This seems to dovetail nicely with Rand's ideas of self-interest. The problem is that we have abundant real-world examples of how that logic simply doesn't work. Companies have become masters of finding ways to externalize costs, and that's never clearer than in the environmental sphere. Leased grazing land in South America, fracking in the US, the Deepwater Horizon - in these cases the destruction of the land/environment imposes little to no cost to the companies involved, and when it does, it's due to government action. Just as real-world communism has failed at the level of human implementation, libertarianism threatens to do the same by shifting the power and concomitant excesses and abuses to the corporate side of the equation. The general impact of libertarian-minded deregulation has borne this out.
Posted by karpar on April 27, 2011 at 11:29 AM · Report this
@8, Yeah see the movie for yourself FOR FREE when it comes out on Hulu or YouTube. Don't give any monetary reward to these people.

The problem with listening to audience rather than professional reviews is that the people who are paying to see this propaganda already agree with the message. It wouldn't matter how bad the movie sucked as a form of entertainment - they will give a good review because they agree with the message before even going into the theater.
Posted by Diagoras on April 27, 2011 at 6:30 PM · Report this
99 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
John Horstman 100
"Atlas Shrugged: Part I Isn't Even a Real Movie"

Well, that's hardly their fault: Atlas Shrugged isn't a real novel, it's 1300 pages of lexical masturbation (masturbation being an exercise in self-pleasure without the need to consider the needs/desires/positionalities of other people, something at which Rand excels). It did make for a fun video game, though.

@97: The problem with Libertarianism is the problem with minimal-regulation market economics, especially those embracing Capitalism (Capitalism is not synonymous with Market Economics - it's possible to have a command economy predicated on a medium of capital exchange - e.g. paper money - that allows for the unlimited accumulation and storage of wealth, like in segments of the Chinese economy or the USSR, which are/were not particularly communist but more Capitalist command-/planned-market economies; conversely, it's possible to establish a Socialist market economy, with heavy regulation of the market and limits on capital accumulation) and Realpolitik and Game Theory and anything else predicated on the Rational Actor model of human behavior: the Rational Actor model is a really bad model of human behavior. Hence all of the real-world examples of the systems failing. The Rational Actor model requires people to have complete, true, and only true information about every possible decision; to analyze that information correctly as it relates to the decision to be made; and to value personal material well-being over all else. I don't know a single person who behaves like that.

Too, a free market is inherently self-contradictory; a market-exchange-value system requires a standardized exchange medium, else the fluctuations in the value of competing commodity-currencies themselves distort the market valuation of other goods and services, but enforcing a common currency is itself an imposed market control, making a truly free market impossible. Also, a free market (or the closest thing to it that's actually possible) is horrible: it can abide no civil rights (humans, not just labor, must be exchange commodities a la chattel slavery), no patents nor intellectual property laws, no protections against cheating or theft, etc. The only way to do a free market is to have absolute anarchy, which is not in any sense a sustainable system, because that group over there that decides to band together for survival is going to be able to sneak up and kill the lone survivalist holed up in his cabin and take all of his stockpiled provisions and guns. People tend to do better at surviving by working together, and informal or unwritten laws are still laws (i.e. social norms).

So, once we've done away with this "free market" and "no government" nonsense (because it is, again, impossible), the debate becomes one of what kind of controls we should have on human behavior in our system (be those behaviors economic, interpersonal, environmental, etc.). And when you press these assholes to define and defend actual policy, it very quickly becomes clear that what they want is a system of intense privilege that benefits them at great cost to everyone else, or that they have no clue what they want in terms of policy and have just been parroting nebulous, uninterrogated ideological platitudes like "freedom" and "small government" and "individualism".
Posted by John Horstman on April 28, 2011 at 10:45 AM · Report this
@100 FTW. The moderators should just lock this one up right here.
Posted by malamute on April 28, 2011 at 12:47 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 102
@8/ 9

Sure, I'm going to see this movie 3 or 4 times. I hear it's as exciting as Jar Jar Binks giving a speech to the Imperial Senate.


If I want to watch middle aged rich white men talk about how awful organized labor is, I'll watch C-SPAN, thank you very much.
Posted by passionate_jus on April 28, 2011 at 2:04 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 103

Man you're dumb.

#1 What does Burning Man have to do with this?

#2 As someone who has actually been there, I can attest that people from all over the world attend and that it's far more multi cultural/ multi ethnic than, say, your typical libertarian or Tea Bag rally.
Posted by passionate_jus on April 28, 2011 at 2:09 PM · Report this
104 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
Great review and comments.

I'm wondering if thinkingisfree is an attempt to pass the Turing test.
Posted by Dean Booth on April 28, 2011 at 7:08 PM · Report this
TheloniousPunk 106
Ayn Rand accepted wellfare.

...So, for all you budding Ayn Rand worshipers who are so hot to suck the dick of her ideology, think about what that means for a minute.

I'm always amazed at where the finger is pointing when people start sputtering about "personal accountability". It's never back at themselves.

Posted by TheloniousPunk on May 1, 2011 at 4:11 PM · Report this
Neither Objectivism nor Communism are necessary - this is a 20th century fight.

Over the past 15 years, the Scandinavians have cracked the code for creating societies that maximize prosperity, and economic and social liberty for the greatest number of citizens. Capitalism without the brutality.
Posted by malamute on May 2, 2011 at 1:28 AM · Report this
yup, you got it, all libertarians believe exactly the same things as represented by teabag nimrods and ayn rand, there is absolutely nothing more to it. silly nonsuessical libertarians childishly don't believe that we need the government to protect us from the evils of marijuana & pornography and improve our lives by funding the Boy Scouts and McDonalds, and we needs them to take a shitload of our evil money from us to do it.

okay, okay, /sarcasm- great review, hilarious like most of what Constant writes, I love to see writing like this that's ballsy and doesn't give a fuck, well done. I will shake your hand but I have no desire to walk away from you, sir.
Posted by HK on May 3, 2011 at 11:37 AM · Report this
@108: The moral merit of societies can be measured objectively, empirically. There is an entire field devoted to this study, "happiness economics".

Metrics that these economists use measure the aggregate level of happiness in a society - some refer to this as a Happiness Index, other as "Gross Domestic Happiness".

The happiest societies in existence have strong elements of social libertarianism; however they have completely rejected economic libertarianism. The latter is what we're really talking about here.……
Posted by malamute on May 3, 2011 at 12:37 PM · Report this
Excellent book? Excellent movie? (from among the top few comments). Oh, come on, Brainiacs! The woman can't even spell her own fucking first name!
Posted by good-riddance-osama on May 3, 2011 at 1:49 PM · Report this
sure thing, slavery is freedom, comrade. ;)

jkjk I don't really know much about that stuff and will have to look into it, kneejerk reaction would be that it smells like authoritarian bullshit. But could be wrong.

Look, bottom line is this: it doesn't matter if it's supposed to "make people happy" if you're taking away my freedom to fuck whoever I want, own a gun, keep my money, or shoot fuckin' heroin if I want, fuck you, you ain't helpin' jack shit you're just creating more bullshit rules that fuck people over (ie Prohibition creating mob violence).

As far as economics goes, if you've ever actually been uninsured & tried to get government assistance or attended a shitty public school, as I have, you'd know that government run programs fuckin' don't work, because the government runs them.

I personally try to avoid making decisions based on any kind of dogmatic ideology, I think empirical data, science, and logic are super awesome & groovy.

Nobody serious is advocating total anarchy, anybody reasonable knows that while socialism can be rad in small doses- fire fighters are awesome! - there's a limit. The debate, for me, is in where the limit lies, but the basic philosophy of libertarianism is not.

Aren't you sick of giving up half your income so our military can invade foreign countries, so local bar owners aren't allowed to smoke on their own fucking property, so that corporations and millionaires can use loopholes to collect, so cops can take guns from civilians then turn around and shoot us, so that marijuana smokers can be sent to prison?

I don't think that believing in freedom and taking responsibility for helping out your neighbor is the mark of an asshole. I think believing that you need the govt to FORCE you to behave properly IS the mark of having your head UP your asshole.
Posted by HK on May 3, 2011 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Paul Incontinent: Isn't Even a Real Reviewer
Posted by chick on flicks on May 17, 2011 at 8:41 PM · Report this

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